In an all-out effort to retire multiple stakes winner Tortuga Strait after 61 starts and more than $830,000 in earnings, top owner Maggi Moss joined forces with two Thoroughbred advocates last month to claim and retire the war horse after his final race.
Following his first-place finish at Delta Downs Dec. 19, Moss claimed the 9-year-old after the animal appeared on a “watch list” monitored by Gail Hirt of Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue and Retirement and Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue.
“There’s a group of women, including Gail of Beyond the Roses Rescue, and we’re constantly looking for these old war horses” who need to be retired, says Keen, who noted that she stepped up and volunteered to retire the horse to her rescue facility in Texas.
“I hauled him to my farm myself,” she adds. “He’s an awesome horse!”
Sire: Gold Tribute
Dam: Tortuga Band
Foal Date: April 18, 2004
Earnings: $831,573, 61 starts
The day after his last race, Keen drove out to meet him, and seeing that the dark bay needed to stretch his legs to alleviate soreness from the previous day’s workout, she tacked him up in a western saddle and hopped on.
“He rode around like an old pony horse,” she says. “We’re planning to let him down at our farm, train him, and put him on a list for possible adopters. But I’m not so sure. I might want to keep him for myself!”
Enjoyable to ride, he also has the type of personality that makes her laugh—for instance, he enjoys a good sandwich as much as Keen does, especially if it’s Keen’s lunch in the first place, and any other munchies that aren’t nailed down. “He’s a peppermint machine. And he loves carrots, apples, my sandwiches, anything you’re eating, he wants it.”
The dark bay, who has a smidge of white above his back, left foot, is so good-looking that Keen envisions him as a future show horse. She is planning to train him to go without a bridle, and school him in the basics in time for the Battle of the X’s Thoroughbred Show this March.
Helping a warrior go from the track to a good situation is a role Moss says she is happy to do. But she would be happier if assistance to war horses was built in to the sport of horse racing.
“I am always here to help with the warriors of racing,” she says, encouraging the racing industry, the Jockey Club, the HBPA, the owners and the breeders to join her in the effort. “I don’t mind putting up the money, and feel it’s what I want to do, but I wish there was more help” for war horses.